Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A cure for tantrums

Did you know that if a three-year-old keeps knocking down his baby brother, making him do something nice for that same brother after a time-out will completely fix their relationship?  Little boys are funny that way...and logical consequences (you did something mean? do something nice) can work wonders.  Sometimes, at least.

Hey--these guys are brothers.  Although they're not much like my little guys, except for that they're happy, and one of my sons wore overalls today...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm done grading diagnostic essays...

...which means I can start reading the romance novel I've been saving as an editing treat for afterwards!  Also, I've got a whole stack of research for my newest draft of Book Two (Canto 9 of the Faerie Queen, The Arabian Nights, and several nonfiction books on a subject I won't reveal yet), which I'm excited to read as well.  And some more Laurie Halse Anderson.  And Holly Black.  Can you believe I haven't read Holly Black?  My living room floor looks something like this:

Okay, so it's not that bad.  Still, carpet's overrated--and the books I'm reading aren't.  Yay books!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Well, I'm into revisions on my second book--I actually started rewriting chapter 1 today.  And it's interesting, and fun, and I love revision.

Have I mentioned that yet?

But I'm still submitting Swindle Witch--I've finally sent out more than 20 queries total, which is good!  I'm still waiting for almost all of them, which is maybe good, maybe bad, but at least I have kidsschooleditingawesomebooksreadingforfunhusbandwriting to keep me occupied...

And Lego Star Wars.  My three-year-old loves Lego Star Wars.

Friday, August 26, 2011

End of week = relief

Don't get me wrong: I still love my class, reading the first draft of my book went better than I thought, and all of my boys are awesome.  But this video is nerdy and lovely, a nice way to start a (hopefully) wonderful weekend.

I hope they're very happy in their marriage--they've made a lot of people smile!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

On grief and writing

There's not much to say until later.  When the shock settles the words will come.  And sorrow is so big--there are mothers, and fathers, and siblings and teachers and classmates, and it's impossible for words to hold them all.

Still, for me words help.

Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Too much rush

Today's been a day where I've spent more time outside the house than I'd like--between teaching and meetings, it's been a busy time.  That's why I've decided to post this video!  It feeds into my laziness, brings up two of my favorite games (Portal and Half Life 2), and allows me to either do finances or run (triathlon's coming up!), whichever I decide to do.

It's very polished, although I still have a fondness for the cake movie.  What do you think?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stair climbing madness

Baby can climb up our stairs.  However, he doesn't understand the mechanics of going down.  He imagines that diving head first would be fun--and it might be, up until he hit that first hardwood step.  We're in a split-level house, with three sets of ten stairs, so I spend lots of time chasing a crawling crazy up, then catching him when he dives, grinning, into my arms on his attempt down.

At least his cute little head is intact.  And he'll learn to navigate those tricksy steps, someday...

Monday, August 22, 2011

First day of school!

I met my new class today, and I like them already.  Also, I'm currently debating the value of going to a high school reunion.  Admission: I liked high school.  I'd like to see friends I haven't seen in years because I live three states away.  But...the reunion is in Seattle, which is a fourteen-ish hour drive, and it's in the middle of September, a week after my triathlon and only a day before I need to teach again.  'Tis a quandary...

In honor of school, and high school in particular, here is a list of high school mascots...

This was my mascot.  At least ravens are smart.

 And here is a quiz to see what mascot you would have (a patronus is a personal mascot of sorts, right?).

Friday, August 19, 2011


So I've got my syllabi all printed and ready to go, but as I played Robot Unicorn Attack yesterday I realized I didn't share where I discovered it.  I'm aware that it's been around for a while...but I first played it after I went to the BYU Physics department website, where if you pressed a certain sequence the game would pop up.  They fixed it. but while it lasted, it certainly  made me happy.  Which brings me to my new thing for today: Kim Johnson, a spectacular poet and one of the best teachers I've ever had, is featured in the newest version of BYU Magazine.  She taught me all about etymology and the Oxford English Dictionary, and deepened my love for Edmund Spenser's poetry.  And her own poetry is crisp and brilliant and...well, my three-year-old keeps asking me to read the poems enclosed in the article, so you know they sound good.

In fact, here's one of his favorites--and if you haven't heard a three-year-old say the title, you're missing out.


What a drubbing this sundown!—its gloom
hunting out my sorest remorses
to bludgeon me with. That’s what the light does
in autumn, slanting southward and brownly
between the hunched houses of the nieghborhood.
IT falls against the sidewalk like a slab
of meat, like a mugging the passersby pass by.
The church bells bang hollow vespers.
Is there any sound more foresaken
than the rainbird smach across the spent grass?
Yes. The ignition jump of a car
heading anywhere, tail-lights red
as the rubber stamp on a divorce decree,
its diminishing rev a metaphor
for the failure of metaphor. The car
is a car leaving, and then left.
— Kimberly Johnson

Here's a picture of Kim Johnson, although her poem is much better than any picture!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Okay, so I should be adding new dates to my syllabus and revising the creative writing section.  And I will, in a second.  But nothing makes me want to procrastinate more than changing dates on a document (except maybe grading), so in honor of that, here is a game that helps me procrastinate far more than any game should:

Rainbows and sprinklecups!  This is awesome!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I watched Tron for the first time today.  It was...very square.  Also, lots of glowy suits.  Yay eighties?  I was born in the eighties.  I suppose I should cheer for the decade--except no one's making me, so I won't.  Anyway, here's a picture:

I like Legos.  They are very rectangular--just like Tron!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


School's starting next week, and I've got to edit a syllabus in addition to a second book, a synopsis of my first book, and, occasionally, my query letter.  Luckily I like editing, and my second book's better than I thought as I'm reading it (don't get me wrong--there's still two major plot arcs that need rewriting--but the main character and main supports have a nice balance of humor and pathos).  So in honor of school, here's a Simpson's clip making fun of people who made the choice to become grad students (I've done that!).  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A wedding! A wedding!

I'm so excited about my brother-in-law's wedding that I keep forgetting to post!  So here are a whole bunch of random cool websites that I'm glad I discovered on blogs and such:

Darths and Droids
Nymbler baby names
Shannon Hale's blog
and Cake Wrecks

Here is the first cake that pops up on a "best wedding cake ever" Google search.  It is very cute.  And colorful.  And Nintendoish...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Double exercising...

...means that I give you stick figure comics!  You've probably already heard of "Order of the Stick" if you're nerdy, but even if you're not, it's funny--especially at the start!  Read from the first strip, though, since the strip has a continuous plot and character development...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

After all these years, we've still got a sense of humor

If you've read the comics section of the newspaper for years, and you have opinions about unfunny 80-year-old comics that are still being published, or if you want to see Mary Worth and dramatic strips become hilarious, read the Comics Curmudgeon.  It amuses me almost every day!

Monday, August 8, 2011

This week...

...will be crazy, with my husband's brother getting married, family coming in, and our wedding anniversary (8 happy years!).  So here's the deal.  Each night I'll make a brief post and share one of my bookmarked webpages, because I love all my bookmarked webpages for different reasons.  Tonight, though, I shall post a link to this Star Wars video, because my son's been playing Star Wars all day.  We went for a walk, and baby was R2D2, three-year-old was a super-powered C3PO, and I was "Rebel Scum," the driver of the spaceship stroller.  In honor of our walk, here is a Star Wars rap that gets stuck in my head.  May it get stuck in  yours!

If it weren't for Uncle Owen's brief profanities, my three-year-old would know this song...but he's happy with the movie music, and calling me "rebel scum" whenever he wants.  Even when he's a good guy.  He likes the word "scum," and it's a crisp, cool-sounding word, so that's as it should be.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Queries and potty training

For me, writing a query feels quite a lot like potty training my three-year-old.  There's improvement, there's accidents, and a lot of times it feels more like I'm moving backwards than forwards.  Here's a confession: I query very slowly, in batches of five or ten, and I haven't sent out a batch for quite a while.  I just can't get my letter to have a good balance between characterization, poetic writing, and plot.  Sort of like my three-year-old has a hard time balancing playing, remembering he needs to go to the potty, and remembering he needs to tell me when he needs the aforementioned potty...

At least my queries aren't literally as messy, and they don't make laundry.  And someday I'll get one I can be proud of.  Just like someday my three-year-old will get back to wearing only one pair of pants a day...

Elmo speaks three languages!  And we haven't bothered to figure out how to change it to just English!  So he's very...educational.  Just like queries!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good news, bad news

Good news: if, say, a one-year-old sucks on your phone, putting it in rice can fix all the internal parts that get wet and it works perfectly in about 24 hours!

Bad news: when your husband comes home and can't stop the car, and repairs cost over $1,000, you can feel very sad.  Also, you can wish you knew more about mechanics.  Because that is lots of money.

Good news: finishing a book feels good!  Especially when the ending goes better than you expected.  And then you get to revise!

Bad news: uh...childcare costs a lot.  Also, spiders like our basement.

Good news: using a dragon and M&M's, potty training is starting to work again!

Bad news: ceramic dragons chip.  Also, baby can climb the stairs.  Which are hardwood.  He hasn't fallen...and we'll try to keep it that way

Good news: here is a clip from Futurama.  Because saying "Good news, everyone!" deserves some Futurama every time.  Even if there is no professor, and it sort of cuts off at the end...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The start of something beautiful

Well, I'm almost done with my second book.  The only problem is, it needs a lot of work.  I'm the type of writer who works without anything more than a rough outline--I learn things that way, and writing is always exciting.  But it does mean that my rough drafts are really, really rough.  At this point finishing the book almost seems pointless, given that the ending I've got right now is way too contrived and not tied into earlier scenes.  I know from experience that everything will get better, however, and I like having the base to work with.  So I'll finish, and hit print, and we'll see what's good and what's not.

My first book's gone to something like this:

Okay, so it's not nearly this good--I love Nighthawks.  Plus my book's fantasy.  Ah, well.

When the original looked something like this:

Okay, my original didn't have many Legos, and there were bad accents, and a completely pointless center...but you get the idea

Soon I'll get to revisions!'s bumpy right now, and nobbly, so I know I've got my work cut out for me...but hey!  My first draft of a book is one day away from done!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Today I loaded up the double stroller with a one-year-old, a three-year-old, a change of underwear, and a bottle of water, and we walked the mile or so down to the train station.  And let me say: it's amazing how friendly people are to a big blue-eyed baby who's waving and grinning right at them.  I learned a lot from each conversation, and it made me (nerdy writer that I am) think about how many stories there are in the world.  Every person you sit by on the bus, or share a lane with in the pool, or drive by in the car--every one of them has their own personality, their own dreams, their own collection of furious gnomes.  Okay, so not every one collects gnomes--some might prefer clogs, or cogs, or unicorns with goggles.  But you get the idea.

Oh, and I love looking at tattoos and piercings.  They tell me a lot--and I'm a visual person, so pictures are a fascinating sign of values and ideas...

I may have already posted this picture.  But it's worth posting again.  Wouldn't you react to a face that joyful?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Catching up

While we're catching up from all that vacationing and such, I shall entertain the (very small) masses with this video of a pygmy owl (still in honor of Pottermore, maybe?):